Can I Have An Active Lifestyle After Rib Removal Surgery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, Although you state on your  website that you have performed rib removal on women who participate in sports and maintain an active lifestyle, many doctors refuse to do the surgery because it would expose certain internal organs. I understand that the surgery itself is safe, but what about life afterwards? Are you more in danger of dying from e.g. a car accident that puts extreme pressure on the exposed area?

Finally, is there a way to determine beforehand how much waist reduction you’ll achieve? The website says 1-3″, but, for a petite woman, that could be the difference between an attractive waist:hip ratio and looking like a circus freak.

A: In answer to your surgical waistline narrowing questions:

1) Rib removal surgery leaves the inner half of the ribs so concerns about subsequent organ injury or an unguarded posterior abdomen are unfounded.

But if there are concerns about any of the rib lengths being reduced, there is also the rib fracture technique which leaves the entire rib length in place.

2) When having a concern about looking deformed (aka circus freak) after rib removal surgery, that is an outcome that would fall into the category of overcorrection. That is giving the operation way too much credit for what it can accomplish. The aesthetic concern with the operation is making sure that it does enough for the patient to see a noticeable difference. In other words undercorrection not overcorrection is the potential concern.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana